De Anza College Alumni awarded for social activism, civic engagement

Abby Hou, Staff Reporter

Two De Anza College Alumni were named ‘2018 MacArthur Fellows’ in October for their work in social activism through criminal justice reform and art representing civic engagement.

The MacArthur Fellows Program awards 25 individuals, with $625,000 for achieving ‘exceptional creativity’ and accomplishments in their chosen field.

The Chicago based John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation is one of the nation’s largest independent foundation, which supports people who have extraordinary creativity, effective institutions and influential networks. It dedicated to constructing a verdant, and peaceful world.

Raj Jayadev, who studied at De Anza College two decades ago, is now a community organizer. He co-founded Silicon Valley De-Bug in 2001 and has been devoting himself in criminal justice reform. The MacArthur Foundation interprets his work as “a model of grassroots collective activism.”

Through activism, Jayadev said he has worked closely with Cynthia Kaufman, faculty director of De Anza’s Vasconcellos Institute for Democracy in Action, and several De Anza students who have volunteered at De-Bug. He also believed community college students understand social issues from their own lives more so they have more significant influences.

Titus Kaphar is an artist whose art pieces explore the intersection of art, history and civic agency. He was a De Anza student in the late 1990s, and he also has returned several times as an artist in residence at the Euphrat Museum of Art. He guides students in their own artistic explorations of issues like incarceration and protest.

Moreover, he has been concerned with the issues of slavery and the way people of color have been represented – or ignored – in traditional art. In a 2015 interview, he credited Euphrat director Diana Argabrite with giving him an opportunity to teach other students about art which was an experience that he found inspiring. “My time at De Anza planted the seeds for the content that would become the focus of my artistic practice.”